Elks Celebrate 150 Years Of Benevolence

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) marks the 150th anniversary of its organization this year. The Benton County Elks Lodge 2783 celebrated July 29 with dinner and music. About 80 members and guests attended the event beginning at 1 PM, and enjoyed a menu of Brats and hot dogs, plus side dishes and desserts. The Lodge Boys Band performed after dinner.
The BPOE was chartered in February 1868 with the goal of helping veterans and scouting. It also wanted to give out scholarships and more – wherever charity, justice and brotherly love were needed. The organization had begun forming the year before with the Jolly Corks, a group of musicians who wanted to have fun and avoid a New York Excise tax in 1867. As membership grew, some members saw the vision to become more helpful in the community and that group moved forward with their ideals.
Today, the BPOE is involved in many nationwide service projects including the Drug Awareness Program (DAP). 
“It is the only surviving drug program in the nation,” said Dennis Schoen, President of the Benton County Elks Lodge 2783. “We work with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other government agencies to provide drug awareness and education. Our national organization just received a grant of $85,000 from DEA to use for the program. We have a local drug trailer that we take to the town square when events associated with kids take place there. There are two trailers in the district.”
The Drug Awareness trailer was recently part of the Jubilee Days parade on June 9th.
Schoen said there is also a Missouri Elks Dental Van program supported by all 74 Elk Lodges in the state. There are two vans outfitted with dental offices, and one of them visited Warsaw last year.
Schoen said that there is a yearly scholarship program where students are given a specific theme to write about. Their essays are submitted for chances of scholarships at the state and national level.
 “Locally, the Benton County Elks Lodge is working with Adults with Disabilities, sponsored by Human Services in Sedalia,” said Schoen. “We plan four events a year for them including a St. Patrick’s Day/Mardi Gras party, a summer picnic, a yearly bowling party, and a winter ball where they have dancing and receive Christmas gifts.”
Schoen said the local Elks Lodge supports the weekend backpack program for school children and also distributes school supplies where needed. They support the Veteran’s Home in Warrensburg and is presently planning an Oktoberfest there. The Elks work with a rest home in Lincoln where they have provided iPods and headsets, recliners, Christmas presents, dining room tables and chairs.
The Elks are not limited to regularly scheduled projects. When the opportunity to do a good deed arrives, they jump in and take action.  In March, the Lodge donated funds needed to send a person with Autism to a special camp in June. Without assistance, it wouldn’t have been possible. In April, they delivered thousands of preschool and elementary grade workbooks and CDs to the Warsaw Library, Cornerstone Academy and North Elementary. They were rescued from a storage area and were to be used as part of the summer school program in Warsaw. In May, Lodge members sent 44 holiday gift packages to U.S. Armed Forces service members who were stationed overseas.
“We are a solid, old volunteer organization and have people with big hearts,” said Schoen.
Elks Lodge 2783 will celebrate its 25th anniversary next February.